The Los Angeles Kings finished their major transformation by announcing the hiring of John Stevens as the team’s new head coach. Stevens takes over after previously serving as associate head coach and having spent seven total seasons as a Kings staffer.
Scoring goals proved to be a major problem for the Kings during the 2016-17 NHL season with the team ultimately failing to reach the Stanley Cup playoffs. The new head coach is now tasked with finding ways to help the struggling offense. Stevens sees himself as leading a more aggressive attack that will constantly hound the opposing goaltender, according to Josh Cooper of Yahoo Sports:
“I think part of our identity as a hockey team has to be that the LA Kings are a team that goes hard to the net, and quite honestly, if we lead the league next year in coach’s challenges for goalie interference, I’d be really happy about that,” Stevens said.
One of the ways Stevens sees the Kings improving is by having the team attacking from the middle of the ice:
“Everyone talks about analytics. Analytics tells you we don’t get enough scoring opportunities up the middle of the ice,” Stevens said.
The team’s 201 goals scored tied for 24th best with the Buffalo Sabres during the past season while the 7.79 shooting percentage was the third worst. Stevens has a tall task in front of him with the Kings. New general manager Rob Blake previously expressed his belief in the team’s core and thinks the Kings can turn things around.
Stevens previously coached the Philadelphia Flyers from 2006-2009 where he had seven players score over 20 goals during the 2007-08 season. He ended up winning The Hockey News Coach of the Year award that season after helping the Flyers improve their record by 39 points.